The Syracuse Orange and San Diego St. Aztecs want to make it clear that they never had any intention of not playing the Battle on the Midway on November 9th. Even as the promotion and weekend that the game was a part of crumbled around it, they never considered not playing.
They did, however, need some help to make sure it happened.
Donna Ditota did some digging to find out how the game was secured and SU was spared another year of "Syracuse never travels" jokes.
SU athletic director Daryl Gross met with San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk in California. Henry Ford, Fox Sports San Diego senior vice president and general manager, participated in what he termed "a couple of days of intense conversation." Phone calls were made to some of San Diego’s most influential businessmen. And by last Friday, some frantic behind-the-scenes manipulations kept the Battle on the Midway afloat.
"It came to a point where everybody had to decide who was going to invest in what to get this game going," Baumgartner said. "Maybe the best way to put it was (the promoters) were in second or third gear and a month out from the game, we needed to be in fifth gear."
That's when a businessman connected to San Diego State athletics called former New York Giants player Phil McConkey. McConkey is now president of Academy Securities, an institutional financial services firm (whatever that is). As a graduate of the Naval Academy and someone with many relatives who are Orange fans, McConkey was happy to assist, though it's unclear in what way he's assisting. All we know is that because of his and the help of others, the event is sponsored and happening.
The rest of the article is an interesting behind-the-scenes look into the pitfalls and issues that this event created and how they've been solved.
Also, Ditota spoke with McConkey, who grew up in Buffalo dreaming of a scholarship to Syracuse that never came.
My father hates Syracuse. They didn't recruit me 37 years ago and he still holds a grudge," McConkey said with a laugh by telephone earlier this week. "They didn't come after me and I would have gone there in a heartbeat."
Good for us, this brother-in-law and nephews are huge Orange fans. Otherwise, we might be opening the season on a boat in Lake Onondaga instead.